Love, Amalia

Overview

Amalia deals with loss while learning about love and her cultural heritage in this tender tale from acclaimed authors Alma Flor Ada and Gabriel M. Zubizarreta.

Amalia’s best friend Martha is moving away, and Amalia is feeling sad and angry. And yet, even when life seems unfair, the loving, wise words of Amalia’s abuelita have a way of making everything a little bit brighter. Amalia finds great comfort in times shared with her grandmother: ...

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Con cariño, Amalia (Love, Amalia)

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Overview

Amalia deals with loss while learning about love and her cultural heritage in this tender tale from acclaimed authors Alma Flor Ada and Gabriel M. Zubizarreta.

Amalia’s best friend Martha is moving away, and Amalia is feeling sad and angry. And yet, even when life seems unfair, the loving, wise words of Amalia’s abuelita have a way of making everything a little bit brighter. Amalia finds great comfort in times shared with her grandmother: cooking, listening to stories and music, learning, and looking through her treasured box of family cards.

But when another loss racks Amalia’s life, nothing makes sense anymore. In her sorrow, will Amalia realize just how special she is, even when the ones she loves are no longer near?

From leading voices in Hispanic literature, this thoughtful and touching depiction of one girl’s transition through loss and love is available in both English and Spanish.

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Editorial Reviews

September 2012 - The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books
“A touching portrayal of love and loss…. The emotions ring true, with Amalia’s raw pain of loss and resentment respectfully and vividly depicted.”
The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books

“A touching portrayal of love and loss…. The emotions ring true, with Amalia’s raw pain of loss and resentment respectfully and vividly depicted.”
Publishers Weekly
Ada and Zubizaretta’s (Dancing Home) uneven collaboration focuses on the deep bond between Mexican-American sixth-grader Amalia and her grandmother. When Amalia’s best friend, Martha, moves away from Chicago, Amalia’s Abuelita helps Amalia cope with the anger and sorrow. But when Abuelita unexpectedly dies, Amalia descends into an overwhelming grief that renders her unable to connect with the many relatives who descend upon their household—and whose stories Abuelita often shared with her on their weekly Fridays together. The authors successfully depict family love and closeness across generations and distances, but their combined voice lacks energy, relying on summaries and platitudes: “Moments like this made their friendship so special.” Two of the livelier sections are memories: one of a camping trip with Martha’s family and one of Amalia’s grandmother’s guidance in helping her granddaughter resolve a wrong action. In the final chapters, when Amalia directly faces her grief and reaches out to her relatives, the book finally takes on an authentic emotional poignancy, bringing a closing richness to this story of a girl’s first experience of loss. Ages 8–12. Agent: Adriana Dominguez, Full Circle Literary. (July)
From the Publisher
“Ada and Zubizarreta (Dancing Home, 2011) reunite to focus on a young Latina girl coping with loss…. The authors tackle issues of love, loss and familial ties with a sympathetic, light hand and blend Spanish words and Latino music and recipes into Amalia’s tale. A charming story, especially for children facing the loss of grandparents.”

Kirkus Reviews, June 1, 2012

“With sensitively drawn characters and a low-key story moving between present and past, the authors construct a portrait of a multigenerational immigrant family. The Latino culture of the family is reflected in the cooking the two do together, the memories Abuelita passes on, and all the letters she has kept from distant loved ones.”

Horn Book Magazine, July/August 2012

“Ada and Zubizaretta’s (Dancing Home)…collaboration focuses on the deep bond between Mexican-American sixth-grader Amalia and her grandmother…. The authors successfully depict family love and closeness across generations and distances…. In the final chapters…the book…takes on an authentic emotional poignancy, bringing a closing richness to this story of a girl’s first experience of loss.”

Publishers Weekly, May 28, 2012

“Amalia is upset when her best friend announces that she is moving from Chicago to California. When Martha leaves, Amalia turns to her grandmother for comfort. It is in her kitchen and at her table that the child learns not only about her family and her Mexican heritage, but also about herself…. This story utilizes a special intergenerational relationship to introduce Mexican culture and traditions within the themes of changing family and friendships. Spanish words and phrases are woven into the text…this quiet story may provide a different perspective on the loss of a loved one.”

School Library Journal, August 2012

“Latina sixth-grader Amalia is so upset by her best friend Martha’s move from their Chicago neighborhood to California that she can’t even say good-bye. When her beloved abuelita passes away suddenly a few days later, she doesn’t even have the chance to say good-bye….Sprinkled with Spanish words and phrases, this quiet story charmingly emphasizes the importance of both friendship and intergenerational relationships. It concludes with simple recipes for making some of Abuelita’s favorite desserts.”

Booklist, August 1, 2012

September 2012 The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books
“A touching portrayal of love and loss…. The emotions ring true, with Amalia’s raw pain of loss and resentment respectfully and vividly depicted.”
September 2012 The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books
“A touching portrayal of love and loss…. The emotions ring true, with Amalia’s raw pain of loss and resentment respectfully and vividly depicted.”
Children's Literature - Justina Engebretson
Could life get any worse? For sixth grade Amalia, it feels as though the whole world has come to an end and nothing will ever be the same again. Her best friend Martha is moving away to California, miles and miles away from Chicago. Martha seems excited about the move, while Amalia is fighting anger one minute and tears the next. Even the wise and kind words of Amalia's grandmother cannot seem to pull Amalia from her despair, though she does find some small comfort in her grandmother's kitchen while baking and listening to old family stories. When Martha comes to say goodbye, she leaves Amalia a card but Amalia refuses to open it. She tries to forget Martha is gone but everywhere she goes, Amalia is reminded of her. Less than one week after Martha's goodbye, tragedy strikes again, only this time Amalia does not get the chance to say goodbye. Amidst her pain and loss, Amalia learns some important lessons about life and love, while finding a gift she will treasure her whole life. This chapter book tells a bittersweet tale of friendship, love, and goodbyes. Through Amalia's experience, the author sensitively approaches the topic of death and grief, while painting a beautiful picture of life and the joy of family and friends. The Spanish words sprinkled throughout bring authenticity to the tone of the text and the cultural heritage of the main character. Amalia is a wonderful, three-dimensional character with complex, raw emotions that are genuine and real, making her someone that young girls can relate to. Questions and activities are provided at the end of the book to promote group discussion and further reflection. Overall, this is an excellent story that will appeal to elementary and early middle school girls. Reviewer: Justina Engebretson
School Library Journal
Gr 3–5—Amalia is upset when her best friend announces that she is moving from Chicago to California. When Martha leaves, Amalia turns to her grandmother for comfort. It is in her kitchen and at her table that the child learns not only about her family and her Mexican heritage, but also about herself. As Abuelita shares her Christmas-card ritual with her granddaughter, Amalia is given glimpses of her aunts and uncles and her mother, and notices the care that Abuelita takes in her communication and responses with everyone. It's quite the the opposite of how Amalia treated Martha at the time of her move. When her grandmother dies suddenly, the child feels lost. Her extended family, whom she has heard so much about, is suddenly around, but instead of making her feel better, she feels worse. Through flashbacks, readers see just how close Amalia was to Abuelita and how much she relied on her for comfort and advice. Over time, with the help of the cherished Christmas-card box, she begins to heal, and by recalling Abuelita's words and deeds, she begins to reach out to her family members, and to Martha as well. This story utilizes a special intergenerational relationship to introduce Mexican culture and traditions within the themes of changing family and friendships. Spanish words and phrases are woven into the text. While it does not break new ground, this quiet story may provide a different perspective on the loss of a loved one.—Stacy Dillon, LREI, New York City
Kirkus Reviews
Ada and Zubizarreta (Dancing Home, 2011) reunite to focus on a young Latina girl coping with loss. Sixth-grader Amalia lives in Chicago with her Mexican-American mother and Puerto Rican father. While making melcocha (taffy) one afternoon with Abuelita, Amalia shares that her best friend, Martha, is moving to California. Abuelita calms her with tales of the people she has lost through the years. While these tales temporarily relieve Amalia's anxiety about Martha's move, she is still upset. When Martha and her family leave sooner than expected, Amalia becomes angry and is convinced that she has lost her friend forever. She feels the emptiness of life without Martha and reminisces about the great times they had together, but her worries are pushed aside when Abuelita dies unexpectedly. As her family gathers from Mexico and Costa Rica to celebrate Abuelita's long life, Amalia has a difficult time understanding why everyone else isn't as sad as she is. After her mother gives her one of Abuelita's most cherished possessions, she begins to understand the important role she played in her grandmother's life and finds the courage to contact Martha. The authors tackle issues of love, loss and familial ties with a sympathetic, light hand and blend Spanish words and Latino music and recipes into Amalia's tale. A charming story, especially for children facing the loss of grandparents. (recipes) (Fiction. 8-12)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781442424036
  • Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers
  • Publication date: 7/23/2013
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 127
  • Sales rank: 948,623
  • Age range: 8 - 12 Years
  • Product dimensions: 5.00 (w) x 7.40 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Alma Flor Ada, an authority on multicultural and bilingual education, is the recipient of the 2012 Virginia Hamilton Literary Award. She is the author of numerous award-winning books for young readers, including Dancing Home with Gabriel Zubizarreta, My Name Is María Isabel, Under the Royal Palms (Pura Belpré Medal), Where the Flame Trees Bloom, and The Gold Coin (Christopher Award Medal). She lives in California, and you can visit her at AlmaFlorAda.com.

Gabriel M. Zubizarreta draws from his experiences of raising his three wonderful daughters in his writing. He hopes his books will encourage young people to author their own destinies. He coauthored Love, Amalia and Dancing Home with Alma Flor Ada. Gabriel lives in Northern California with his family and invites you to visit his website at GabrielMZubizarreta.com.

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Read an Excerpt

1. Melcocha casera

—¿Qué te pasa, Amalia? ¿Qué es lo que te preocupa?

La abuela quitó del fuego la olla en la que había hervido la miel, para que se enfriara un poco. Luego se secó la frente con un pañuelo de papel y miró a su nieta. Por la pequeña ventana sobre el fregadero entraba la luz del atardecer. Los geranios, en varias macetas, añadían una nota de tenue color rosado.

—Estás muy callada, hijita. Dime lo que te preocupa—insistió su abuela—. Se ve que te pasa algo.

—No me pasa nada, abuelita, de verdad, estoy bien. . . .

Amalia trató de usar un tono convincente, pero la abuela continuó:

—¿Es porque Martha no ha venido contigo hoy? ¿Está bien?

Hacía tiempo que Amalia tenía la costumbre de ir a la casa de su abuelita los viernes por la tarde. Durante los dos últimos años, desde que empezaron el cuarto grado, su amiga Martha la acompañaba. A lo largo de la semana Amalia esperaba con ilusión ese momento. Pero hoy era diferente.

Se demoró antes de contestar:

—Ya no va a venir, abuelita. ¡Nunca más!

A pesar de sus esfuerzos, la voz se le quebró y algunas lágrimas se asomaron a sus ojos castaños.

—Pero ¿por qué, hijita? —preguntó su abuela con un tono cálido. La abrazó con cariño y esperó a que su nieta le explicara lo que sucedía.

Amalia sacudió la cabeza con un gesto frecuente en ella cuando estaba cansada. Y el pelo largo le barrió los hombros. Solo entonces respondió:

—Martha se va. Su familia se muda al oeste, a algún sitio en California. ¡Tan lejos de Chicago! Hoy se fue a la casa directamente desde la escuela para empacar. ¡No hay derecho!

—Tiene que ser muy difícil para ti.

Su abuelita había hablado con una voz llena de comprensión, y Amalia suspiró.

Se quedaron en silencio por un momento. La luz del sol, cada vez más tenue, se iba apagando, y la miel, que había hervido por tanto rato, iba enfriándose y convirtiéndose en una masa oscura cuyo aroma llenaba el aire de la cocina.

—¿Qué te parece si estiramos la melcocha? —preguntó la abuela mientras levantaba la vieja olla de bronce y la ponía sobre la mesa de la cocina. Luego echó la pegajosa melcocha en un tazón de porcelana gruesa con un borde amarillo brillante. Amalia había imaginado alguna vez que ese tazón era como un pequeño sol en la cocina. Pero hoy estaba demasiado disgustada y veía apenas una pesada vasija sin asas.

Se lavaron las manos cuidadosamente en el fregadero y se las secaron con un pañito de cocina. Cada paño tenía bordado en punto cruz un día de la semana con un color distinto. Y su abuela siempre elegía el del día correspondiente. En el que estaban usando podía leerse VIERNES en un profundo azul marino.

Con esos paños, la abuelita le había enseñado los días de la semana y el nombre de los colores en español. Con frecuencia Amalia se sorprendía al darse cuenta de todo lo que había aprendido de su abuela.

Cuando se hubieron secado las manos, se las untaron de mantequilla para impedir que la melcocha se les pegara en los dedos o les quemara la piel. Con una cuchara grande de madera, la abuela echó una porción para cada una de la melcocha que se enfriaba en el tazón.

A medida que la estiraban y la amasaban una y otra vez, la melcocha fue aclarándose y volviéndose más ligera. Entonces empezaron a hacer rollitos de color ámbar y los ponían en trozos de papel encerado. ¡Qué cambios podían producirse en los ingredientes al cocinarlos!

Amalia había ayudado a estirar la melcocha muchas veces, pero nunca dejaba de maravillarla cómo cambiaba de color con solo estirarla y amasarla y estirarla de nuevo. Iba de marrón oscuro a un tono rubio, como el color del pelo de Martha.

El recuerdo de Martha la hizo fruncir el ceño. Pero si su abuela lo notó, no hizo ningún comentario. En cambio, le dijo:

—Lávate bien las manos. Vamos a sentarnos un ratito mientras la melcocha se enfría.

Antes de lavarse las manos, Amalia se chupó los dedos. Nada era tan rico como «limpiarse» después de cocinar. La mantequilla mezclada con la melcocha formaba un caramelo que sabía tan bien como la masa que «se limpiaban» con Martha cuando horneaban galletitas en la casa de su amiga.

Una vez que se hubo lavado y secado las manos, Amalia fue con su abuelita a la sala. Se sentaron en un sofá de tapiz floreado que alegraba la habitación como si un trozo del jardín estuviera dentro de la casa. A la abuelita le encantaban los colores de la naturaleza, como podía verse en cada uno de los rincones de su hogar.

—Sé lo difícil que es aceptar que una persona querida se marche . . . Primero uno se enfada, luego se pone triste, y después parece tan imposible que uno desea negarlo. Pero cuando se hace evidente que es verdad, regresan la rabia y la tristeza, a veces más dolorosas todavía que antes. . . . Lo he vivido ya varias veces.

Amalia escuchó con atención, tratando de adivinar a quién se refería su abuela. ¿Estaba pensando en sus dos hijos, que vivían tan lejos?, ¿o en la hija, que siempre prometía venir a Chicago desde la ciudad de México a visitarla y nunca lo hacía?, ¿o se estaba refiriendo a su esposo, que había muerto cuando Amalia era tan pequeña que no se acordaba de él?

—Pero se encuentra el modo de mantenerlos cerca, Amalia.

Sonriendo, como si se le acabara de ocurrir algo, añadió:

—Ven, acompáñame.

Se levantó y le indicó que la siguiera al comedor.

Lo único que Amalia quería era acabar la conversación. Ya era terrible que Martha le hubiera dicho que le tenía una sorpresa, y luego resultara que la sorpresa era que estaba a punto de mudarse lejísimo. La ida de Martha parecía tan definitiva y permanente que Amalia odiaba siquiera imaginarlo. Y hablar de ello solo la hacía sentirse peor. ¡Cómo hubiera querido no tener que esperar a que su padre fuera a buscarla y poder irse a su casa! Quizá entonces podría llamar a Martha y oírla decir que todo había sido un gran error y que, en realidad, no se estaba mudando. Y todo desaparecería como se esfuman las pesadillas al despertar.

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Posted August 28, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    Love, Amalia is a story of a young Latino girl who is discoverin

    Love, Amalia is a story of a young Latino girl who is discovering the
    lessons of loss, friendship and love of family. When this delightful
    book begins, Amalia is facing a problem with her best friend and shares
    it with her grandmother. The tender bond and relationship that exists
    between Amalia and her grandmother is one she will soon understand as
    she embarks on a journey of self-discovery within life and within
    herself. The authors, who write from their hearts, do an exceptional
    job of creating a story that will help parents and caregivers approach
    the subject of grief and loss with all children. Love, Amalia will also
    teach the valuable lesson of why people are important and, most
    importantly, why we ourselves are truly special.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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